The Narcissist and Money Control (2023)

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

Do narcissists love money? Of course! They love any resource that gives them control and power, and money can undoubtedly provide those benefits.

And while we all need money to survive, it can also be a dangerous weapon that can hurt other people. Subsequently, when it comes to their strange relationship with money, most narcissists make their own rules and play their own games.

Some narcissists are objectively wealthy. But many of them are struggling, and understanding the narcissist and money problems can be paramount for your well-being. Let’s get into what you should know.

Table of Contents:

  • Why Money is Important
  • Understanding their Money Habits
  • Types of Narcissists and their Money Habits
  • How to protect yourself?
  • Healing from Financial Abuse

Narcissists and Money: Why Is Money Important to Them?

Most people covet money. It offers an undeniable sense of security and freedom. Likewise, it can help us achieve status, control, and power. These are relatively normal human desires. We all want to feel like we can provide for ourselves and our loved ones.

But narcissists use their money to augment how others perceive them. Money becomes a tool, a way to build what they want out of thin air.

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For instance, if they want to maintain the image of a “perfect life,” they just need to swipe their credit card. Even if they’re on the brink of bankruptcy, nobody needs to know.

Additionally, most narcissists will never feel like they have enough money. Because narcissists do not experience the intangible benefits of human connection, they often use cash as a substitute for love. Therefore, the void feels bottomless. The more they desire wealth, the more they become addicted to the game of acquiring and spending it.

Why Do Narcissists Like Money?

Make no mistake- they don’t necessarily like money for the sake of liking money. That claim is far too simplistic.

Instead, narcissists like what money provides: security, power, self-esteem, freedom, and admiration from others. Money simply represents the vehicle driving them to their intended destination.

Often, narcissists assume that money can help them buy love, happiness, and friendship. Even if they don’t necessarily value those benefits, they do value feeling appreciated and adored, and only other humans can fulfill those needs.

Are Narcissists Greedy?

Yes, most narcissists are relatively stingy and protective over their money. They don’t willingly hand over what they have. However, this greed extends beyond self-preservation.

Because narcissists lack empathy for others, they don’t necessarily understand the benefits of sharing their resources. To them, the world may already feel like a cruel and unfair place, but it’s not their job to help anyone else.

Likewise, they feel highly driven by competition. The narcissist constantly compares themselves to others, even if it seems like they only focus on their accomplishments. As a result, the notion of “giving something away” may feel threatening. They don’t want to face any possible chance that someone else could take advantage of them.

Understanding Narcissists and Their Money Habits

The narcissist’s spending habits can feel confusing from an outside perspective. At times, your complicated relationship with the narcissist and money issues will often feel unfair and cruel.

First, their decisions may feel completely erratic. For example, they might buy a brand new boat when they live nowhere close to a lake. Or, they will spontaneously start a business despite no knowledge about the industry.

Furthermore, some choices seem dangerous, concerning, and even abusive. They may control what you spend. They might steal or take from others without regard to how it could affect someone else. And they frequently break the law while completely justifying their choices.

Why Is the Narcissist Obsessed With Money?

The dynamic between the narcissist and money obsession isn’t always straightforward. Usually, they’re obsessed with their image and reputation. Money gives the narcissist the ability to be whoever they want to be.

Additionally, many narcissists enjoy proving themselves to other people. If their family struggled with money, they might feel an intense need to flaunt their ability to change those circumstances.

If a colleague suddenly receives an impressive promotion, the narcissist might try to double-down their work efforts to earn even more. They may even quit their current position impulsively to pursue a higher-paying job.

Why Are Narcissists Bad With Money?

What happens when the narcissist is financially irresponsible? Does that mean they don’t care about money? Does it mean they’re reckless?

The answer is complicated. Some narcissists are notorious for their financial distress. These problems can happen for several reasons. First, narcissists often believe they are above the rules. In some cases, they may lie, steal, or embezzle money while fully justifying their unethical decisions.

Moreover, many narcissists struggle with impulse control or delayed gratification. For example, instead of saving their money to buy something they really want, they may just open up several credit cards or lines of debt.

Additionally, it can be challenging for narcissists to understand long-term consequences. They’re often reactive to their current emotions. If they want something, they want it now, regardless of what could happen later.

That’s why they often find it easy to make large purchases or even file for bankruptcy. After all, if they don’t feel the need to play by society’s rules, why should they care about society’s consequences?

Are Narcissists Generous With Money?

Not usually. Most narcissists want to hoard their resources because their “stuff” gives them a sense of purpose and meaning.

Some narcissists come across as incredibly cheap. They regift items. They always forget their wallet when it’s time to pay. They eat everyone else’s food without sharing their own. Because they don’t comply with social norms, they don’t care if their cheapness affects other people. This disregard is just one of the reasons why most narcissists lack close friendships.

However, some narcissists may flaunt their money to show off to others. They may throw lavish charity events, donate huge sums of money, or give their loved ones amazing gifts during the holidays. Keep in mind that generosity isn’t the motive- instead, their primary goal is to impress others.

Is There a Difference Between Types of Narcissists?

Each narcissist spends, saves, and uses money differently. Their patterns fluctuate depending on their personality and motives. Here are some of the main takeaways.

The Covert Narcissist and Money

If you feel confused about the covert narcissist and spending money, you’re not alone.

Covert narcissists (also known as vulnerable narcissists) often fly under the radar. Compared to their grandiose counterparts, these individuals usually come across as somewhat quiet, guarded, and even shy.

But the covert narcissist desperately craves admiration. But instead of using outward measures, they may devote hours cultivating a perfect online presence. Or, they might try to manipulate getting what they want using passive-aggression or silent treatment rather than blatant hostility.

The covert narcissist tends to be calculated with money. For example, they may not tip a server when they dine alone. But if they go out to eat with a group of people, they may give a massive tip to create a sense of generosity. Or, they may leave price tags on items and then pretend it was a mistake if someone notices.

Covert narcissists may also gaslight their partners or loved ones about money. For instance, they might insist everyone needs to follow a budget. But if someone confronts them on a recent purchase, they may deny ever talking about this budget. Or, they will defend why they needed that item and how it perfectly aligns with their financial goals.

The Cerebral Narcissist and Money

Cerebral narcissists value coming across as wise and intellectually superior over everyone else. They like being in the center of attention, but they tend to be pretentious about their skills and preferences.

Cerebral narcissists may pretend that money doesn’t matter to them. They might even seem to detest wealthy people or high-earning professions. Often, this is due to their own jealousy. But instead of recognizing this feeling, they just tend to put other people down.

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Cerebral narcissists can also be highly critical about how other people spend their money. For instance, they may criticize someone for buying a nice home or fancy car. That’s because they might perceive these purchases as vain or silly.

Therefore, many cerebral narcissists are naturally frugal. But they aren’t just frugal because they want to save money. They’re frugal because they think certain expenses are beneath them- as a result, they think these purchases should also be beneath you as well!

The Female Narcissist and Money

Female narcissists often value wealth and financial power just as much as their male counterparts. That said, money is often a way to fulfill their fantasies for love, adoration, and sexual power.

The female narcissist might be overly materialistic, obsessed with their appearance, and compelled to maintain their youth. As a result, they may undergo multiple plastic surgeries and spend excess time shopping, primping, and grooming. This woman might own thousands of clothes- many of which still have the original tags.

Where narcissistic males tend to hoard money, females are more likely to spend it. They want the perfect body, house, and family life. To achieve this perfection, they often spend without regard for the consequences. For instance, they might use money allocated for their child’s college fund. Or, they may max out credit cards behind their spouse’s back.

Unlike someone who lacks financial education, these choices aren’t out of ignorance. They usually know exactly what they’re doing, but they have already rationalized that this is what they “need to do.”

How to Protect Yourself Against the Narcissist Financially

The dynamic between the narcissist and borrowing money becomes quickly complicated for loved ones. On the one hand, you probably want to give them the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to feel manipulated or exploited.

Financial abuse can be obvious, but it can also be subtle and difficult to understand. The offenses usually progress over time. The narcissist may start by making offhanded comments about your purchases. They might “give you an allowance” or put you on a budget.

As the relationship evolves, the financial abuse may worsen. Eventually, the narcissist starts controlling all the money. They may spend it mercilessly, but they get upset if you want to buy something. They might also restrict access to specific accounts, use funds without your consent, or limit your ability to earn income.

What if a Narcissist Owes You Money?

Unfortunately, most narcissists won’t pay you back on their own accord. They usually believe they are perfectly entitled to other people’s resources, especially when they’re in a relationship with someone.

Before pursuing your owed money, it’s a good idea to:

  • Record all instances of money loaned to the narcissist in a password-protected document.
  • Change all passwords to your personal financial accounts.
  • Separate your financial accounts as quickly as possible.
  • Contact any creditors about suspicious accounts made in your name.
  • Reach out to friends and family for financial assistance if needed.

How to Get Money Back From the Narcissist?

Depending on how much the narcissist owes you, you will probably need to consult with a lawyer. As mentioned, narcissists won’t readily give up what they think is theirs.

As a result, it’s vital to protect your safety. If confronted, the narcissist may react dangerously to your accusations. They will probably try to deny or downplay what they owe you. Some may threaten to pursue legal action on their own.

That’s why you should consider speaking with a professional. They can take steps to ensure your safety and well-being during this vulnerable time.

Healing From Narcissistic Financial Abuse

The effects of narcissistic financial abuse can be devastating. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize such consequences until they leave the relationship. At that point, they may find themselves in a complicated mess of debt, bankruptcy, stolen money, or fraud.

Remember that boundaries are essential. You are not obligated to give the narcissist any of your money. You are also not obligated to enable or even tolerate their abuse.

In many cases, the no-contact approach tends to be the most effective way for sustainable healing. If you no longer want to play their games, you have to end the game- once and for all.

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  1. Hoertel, N., Peyre, H., Lavaud, P., Blanco, C., Guerin-Langlois, C., René, M., Schuster, J.-P., Lemogne, C., Delorme, R., & Limosin, F. (2018). Examining sex differences in DSM-IV-TR narcissistic personality disorder symptom expression using Item Response Theory (IRT). Psychiatry Research, 260, 500–507.
  2. NNEDV. (2014). NNEDV.

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How do narcissists use money to control you? ›

Narcissists often use money as a tool for punishment. They may reward you financially when you do what they want, and then withhold money when they feel vindictive. This can feel unsafe, degrading and confusing.

What is the one question a narcissist can't answer? ›

The question asked in the video is: “What makes you so different from anyone else?” It was referring to how infallible and superior narcissists see themselves. They cannot answer why they are so wonderful and perfect; they are special, and that's all you need to know about them.

Do narcissists have trouble managing money? ›

Financial distress is a common occurrence among some narcissists. Numerous factors can contribute to these problems. In the first place, narcissists believe that they are above the law. As a result, their unethical behavior may sometimes include lying, stealing, or embezzling money while justifying it fully.

What is the only guaranteed one crazy trick for dealing with a narcissist? ›

No Contact is the Only Way to Shut Down a Narcissist. Many narcissists have always been this way – even as far back as their teenage or childhood years. If you're dealing with a narcissist, you cannot and should not expect them to change their behavior now or ever.

How do you take power from a narcissist? ›

Here are three ways to reclaim your power when you are experiencing the devastating withholding behaviors of a narcissist:
  1. Plan a safe exit. ...
  2. Use any withholding periods as times for radical self-care and productivity. ...
  3. Resolve to integrate the painful lesson of withholding into your future experiences.
Jul 17, 2019

How do you hold power over a narcissist? ›

  1. Educate yourself about NPD. ...
  2. Build your self-esteem. ...
  3. Speak up for yourself. ...
  4. Set clear boundaries. ...
  5. Practice skills to keep calm. ...
  6. Find a support system. ...
  7. Insist on immediate action, not promises. ...
  8. Understand that a narcissistic person may need professional help.

What are the four words you should never say to a narcissist? ›

8 Things You Should Never Say to a Narcissist
  • Don't say, "It's not about you." ...
  • Don't say, "You're not listening." ...
  • Don't say, "Ina Garten did not get her lasagna recipe from you." ...
  • Don't say, "Do you think it might be your fault?" ...
  • Don't say, "You're being a bully." ...
  • Don't say, "Stop playing the victim."
Dec 15, 2017

What is the weak spot of a narcissist? ›

A monumental weakness in the narcissist is the failure to look internally and flesh out what needs to be worked on. Then, of course, the next step is to spend time improving. The narcissist sabotages any possibility of looking deep within.

What is the 1 word a narcissist absolutely Cannot stand? ›

It comes hand-in-hand with this that narcissists hate being criticised or called out. Which is exactly why there's one word in particular narcissistic people cannot stand: "no".

What are the 5 main habits of a narcissist? ›

Let's take a look at five of the most common characteristics of a narcissist in order to create awareness.
  • Inflated Ego. Those who suffer from narcissism usually seem themselves as superior to others. ...
  • Lack of Empathy. ...
  • Need for Attention. ...
  • Repressed Insecurities. ...
  • Few Boundaries.

Why are narcissists so stingy with money? ›

Because narcissists do not experience the intangible benefits of human connection, they often use cash as a substitute for love. Therefore, the void feels bottomless. The more they desire wealth, the more they become addicted to the game of acquiring and spending it.

Where do narcissists hide money? ›

Hiding assets.

Narcissists don't care what's fair. They go to great pains to hide marital assets, sometimes setting up secret accounts, “lending” money to friends, or stashing cash in safe-deposit boxes. Because they're so grandiose, they don't believe they'll ever get caught.

What upsets a narcissist the most? ›

They Face a Setback, Disappointment, or Conflict

A narcissist can become easily enraged if a setback occurs in their life, job, or relationship. Not getting their way results in both a loss of control and a bruised ego.

What is the best way to confuse a narcissist? ›

How To Confuse Narcissist?
  1. Try Not To Show Any Emotions.
  2. Make Them Doubt Themselves.
  3. Don't Make Eye Contact.
  4. Be Quiet And Listen To Others Instead Of Narcissist.
  5. Don't Fall For Their Tricks.
  6. Try To Stay Calm And Rational.
  7. Helps To Gain Control.
  8. May Get Them To Seek Help.

How do you mentally break a narcissist? ›

The following are 16 key phrases to disarm a narcissist:
  1. 1. “ ...
  2. “I Can't Control How You Feel About Me” ...
  3. “I Hear What You're Saying” ...
  4. “I'm Sorry You Feel That Way” ...
  5. “Everything Is Okay” ...
  6. “We Both Have a Right to Our Own Opinions” ...
  7. “I Can Accept How You Feel” ...
  8. “I Don't Like How You're Speaking to Me so I Will not Engage”
Dec 28, 2021

What hurts a narcissist? ›

Narcissists are hurt by challenges or threats to their superior and grandiose self-image (also known as narcissistic injury). Their sense of entitlement and lack of empathy means they will attempt to destroy the culprit by any means necessary.

What turns a narcissist off? ›

The best way to shut down a narcissist is to walk away from them. If all else fails, you can physically remove yourself from the conversation. Even if they keep talking, simply turn around and walk away. If they follow you, close the door.

How do you starve a narcissist? ›

  1. Starve them of gratitude and reciprocal praise. Don't share anything with them about your life. ...
  2. Starve them of putting their needs over your own. ...
  3. Starve them of your self-control. ...
  4. Starve them of your need to reciprocate. ...
  5. Starve them of your empathy. ...
  6. Starve them of your engagement. ...
  7. Starve them of your openness.
Nov 13, 2020

How do you dominate a narcissist? ›

How to Outsmart a Narcissist
  1. Separate yourself to cut off their narcissistic supply.
  2. Take time to heal.
  3. Take responsibility for your part in a conflict.
  4. React with empathy and respect.
  5. Act unresponsive around them.
  6. Disengage from their conversations.
  7. Set and enforce clear boundaries.

What silence does to a narcissist? ›

Narcissists may use the silent treatment to communicate they are unhappy with you, to control you, or as a form of punishment. If the narcissist uses the silent treatment to deflect responsibility for something they have done wrong, it can also be a form of narcissistic gaslighting.

What phrases would a narcissist use? ›

There is no grand list of specific phrases narcissists use, but there are common phrases to look out for like, “My exes are all crazy,” and, “You're too sensitive,” as well as a host of manipulation tactics to try to control you.

What annoys a narcissist? ›

If there's one thing narcissists hate, it's being told what to do. When you push them into a situation where they have to answer to someone else, it's like their own personal hell. Figure out a way where you can get the narcissist in your life to be underneath an authority figure to really watch them squirm.

Who does the narcissist fear the most? ›

Although narcissists act superior, entitled and boastful, underneath their larger-than-life facade lies their greatest fear: That they are ordinary. For narcissists, attention is like oxygen. Narcissists believe only special people get attention.

What type of narcissist is the scariest? ›

Malignant narcissists are often regarded as having the most extreme form of NPD, and while they will have the regular qualities of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, their self-absorption and self-obsession is accompanied by some darker behaviors as well.

Who scares a narcissist? ›

#1 They Fear Rejection

What is this? Narcissists despise rejection, it destabilizes and invalidates them. They work exceptionally hard to keep up appearances; inwardly, they feel unlovable and inferior. Any form of rejection, whether professional, personal, or social, sends them on a warpath.

What would a narcissist never do? ›

Acting selflessly implies you can identify needs in another person and work to meet those needs without thought of your own. By definition, someone with traits of narcissism is unlikely to act selflessly because they lack the ability to empathize or see the needs of those around them.

What is the hamburger method for narcissists? ›

The hamburger method is a way of communicating that makes receiving criticism easier. The ingredients are compliment, confront, and compliment. Think of as a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Because the narcissistic ego needs regular stroking, this works nearly every time.

What is worse than a narcissist? ›

Sociopaths are more dangerous than narcissists. People with antisocial personality disorder are more likely to be engaged in an abusive or controlling relationship. They're also more likely to be involved in illegal activities or financial fraud schemes.

What are red flags of a narcissist? ›

Prioritizes their own needs over others. High expectations of their friends. Ends friendships when they no longer benefit them. Obsessed with social status.

What are the three C's of narcissism? ›

Abstract. Recent literature on narcissism argues that there are three factors covering the construct: agentic, antagonistic, and neurotic.

What is the one question to identify a narcissist? ›

“To what extent do you agree with this statement: 'I am a narcissist. '” Scientists believe that this question could be all researchers need to make a quick and easy diagnosis of narcissism.

Do narcissists steal money? ›

And narcissists know this all too well. Even a little bit of money gives a narcissist a sense of power and domination over others. It starts off small with the little things like removing your name from the accounts and then grows into stealing, threats, and extortion.

How to ruin a narcissist's life? ›

12 Ways to Break a Narcissist's Heart
  1. 1 Ignore their forms of manipulation.
  2. 2 Flaunt how happy you are without them.
  3. 3 Set boundaries to protect yourself.
  4. 4 Deny them what they want.
  5. 5 Stay calm when they try to upset you.
  6. 6 Cut off all contact with them if you can.
  7. 7 Be leery of future love bombing.

Does narcissist get karma? ›

Narcissists look confident, brutal, strong, and lucky. The image they project is of someone who enjoys abusing others. They seem to be nowhere close to facing Karma. But, the truth is that they have been facing some utter bad luck since their childhood.

Will narcissist ever pay back money? ›

Narcissists will also refuse to spend any of their own money on dates or spoiling their partner. They will never offer to pay and if they ever do, it's simply for show.

What happens when a narcissist runs out of money? ›

When deprived of Narcissistic Supply - both primary AND secondary - the narcissist feels annulled, hollowed out, or mentally disembowelled. This is an overpowering sense of evaporation, disintegration into molecules of terrified anguish, helplessly and inexorably.

How do I protect my money from a narcissist? ›

Steps to Protect Yourself Financially When Divorcing a Narcissist
  1. Gather and Organize Financial Documents. ...
  2. Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney. ...
  3. Work with a CDFA. ...
  4. Be Prepared for Battle. ...
  5. Don't Give in to Emotional Blackmail. ...
  6. Protect Your Credit Score. ...
  7. Keep Your Assets Separate. ...
  8. Be Prepared to Go to Court.

What do narcissists enjoy the most? ›

Most narcissists enjoy an irrational and brief burst of relief after having suffered emotionally ("narcissistic injury") or after having sustained a loss. It is a sense of freedom, which comes with being unshackled.

What is the most toxic narcissist? ›

Malignant narcissism is considered by many to be the most severe type. 2 That's why it helps to recognize when you have someone with this condition in your life and what to expect from interactions with them. This knowledge can also provide insight into how to deal with them in the healthiest way possible.

What makes narcissists jealous? ›

They get jealous about everything

They talk a good game, but narcissists actually have very low self-esteem. Low self-worth/confidence/esteem is at the core of a narcissism. This low sense of self naturally makes it extremely easy for them to become jealous – very jealous.

How do you immediately spot a narcissist? ›

They have a sense of entitlement and expect favorable treatment. They take advantage of others to achieve their goals. They lack empathy and don't try to identify with the needs of others. They envy others or believe others envy them.

How do narcissists brainwash you? ›

Narcissists distort the truth through disinformation, oversimplifying, ridiculing and sowing doubt. Narcissists can be incredibly skilled at using classic elements of thought-control and brainwashing.

What happens when you give a narcissist money? ›

And narcissists know this all too well. Even a little bit of money gives a narcissist a sense of power and domination over others. It starts off small with the little things like removing your name from the accounts and then grows into stealing, threats, and extortion.

What are ways a narcissist controls you? ›

Another common trait of narcissism is manipulative or controlling behavior. A narcissist will at first try to please you and impress you, but eventually, their own needs will always come first. When relating to other people, narcissists will try to keep people at a certain distance in order to maintain control.

Do narcissists drain you financially? ›

Narcissists tend to focus on extrinsic motivators, like money and rewards, rather than personal growth and fulfillment. Because money and material wealth are highly important to narcissists, they often become a focal point of their relationships—sometimes resulting in financial abuse.

Do narcissists lie about how much money they have? ›

Narcissists are also known to lie or cover up their bank statements in legal situations to get more money in alimony or child support. People become pawns—even the lawyers and judges—and child support becomes more about financially ruining the ex-partner than caring for the children of the relationship.

What is the best way to outsmart a narcissist? ›

Eight Ways to Outsmart a Narcissist
  1. Recognize you're dealing with a narcissist.
  2. Understand the behaviors they use to manipulate or control you.
  3. Create boundaries for yourself.
  4. Express those boundaries in advance.
  5. Share when your boundaries have been crossed.
  6. Don't be afraid to have open conversations in front of others.
Oct 18, 2022

How to scare a narcissist? ›

17 Ways to Make a Narcissist Really Fear You
  1. Don't give them your attention.
  2. Starve them of empathy.
  3. Show strength and confidence.
  4. Ignore them.
  5. Set and enforce boundaries.
  6. Say no.
  7. Challenge them.
  8. Hold them accountable.
Jul 13, 2022

What confuses a narcissist? ›

Another way to confuse a narcissist is to make them doubt themselves. This can be done by contradicting everything they say and doing the opposite of what they want. For example, if the narcissist wants you to do something, refuse and do the complete opposite.

What is the number 1 narcissist trait? ›

Grandiose sense of self-importance

Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or “special” and can only be understood by other special people.


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